Clavelle Campaign Ties Douglas to Bush

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(Host) Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Clavelle hopes to link incumbent Republican Governor Jim Douglas to the Bush administration. Clavelle says the administration’s policies have been a disaster for Vermont. Douglas says it appears that Clavelle doesn’t have any substantial issues to raise in the campaign.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) As Clavelle travels around the state this summer it’s quite common to find him outlining his opposition to the policies of the Bush administration several times during his stump speech. The Democratic gubernatorial candidate has also been linking Bush to Governor Jim Douglas at some of his press conferences with reporters.

A key part of Clavelle’s overall message is clear: the Bush administration has been bad for Vermont and Douglas is part of that effort.

(Clavelle) “I think Douglas has linked himself to the president’s policies, he has chosen to serve as the chair of the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign and I think that that says volumes about his politics and his priorities. I think that Bush has been a disaster for the state of Vermont and for this entire world and our governor should be speaking against federal policies that are very harmful to Vermont and Vermont families. Instead, he’s serving as the president’s chief cheerleader in the state of Vermont.”

(Kinzel) Douglas says he’s challenged the president when he thinks Bush’s actions will hurt the state of Vermont. As an example of this he points to Vermont’s lawsuit to require the administration to enforce clean air regulations.

The governor says Clavelle is trying to create an issue that doesn’t exist.

(Douglas) “I really think that if my opponent talks as much as he seems to about the party affiliation that the president and I share that shows a real bankruptcy of any constructive ideas or leadership for our state on his part. So I certainly hope that we’ll hear something more constructive during the next four months.”

(Kinzel) Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis notes that president Bush received about 41 percent of the vote in Vermont in the 2000 election. Davis says this means that Douglas will have to run about 10 percent ahead of Bush this year:

(Davis) “I think what will happen this year is that voters will judge Jim Douglas on the basis of his record as governor and his position on important domestic issues like the environment and health care and the state of the economy in Vermont. I think voters realize that Iraq isn’t something that governors have much control over. So even if they’re opposed to president’s policies on Iraq it’s not necessarily that they’ll make the connection between that and Governor Douglas.”

(Kinzel) It’s not clear at this time if either the Republican or Democratic candidates for president or vice president will visit Vermont this fall to campaign with their state candidates.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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